Mr. Wharton to Mr. Ryan.

No. 563.]

Sir: Among the claims presented against the Government of Mexico before the American and Mexican Joint Commission under the convention of July 4, 1868, was one by the archbishop and bishops of the Roman Catholic Church of California, entitled “The case of Joseph S. Alemany, archbishop, etc., and Thaddeus Amat, bishop, etc., v. The Republic of Mexico, No. 493.” The claim was for a share of the income of the so-called “Pious Fund of the Californias,” which it was alleged that the Government of Mexico simply possessed in trust for the benefit of its intended beneficiaries, of whom the Catholic Church of California represented a part.

Upon a difference of opinion between the American and Mexican commissioners the case was referred to Sir Edward Thornton, as umpire, who decided that one-half of the annual income of said fund, or $43,080.99, should be paid by the Government of Mexico to the Roman Catholic Church of California for the period of twenty-one years from the 30th of May, 1848, making a total award of $904,700.79. This sum was duly accounted for in the settlement between the two Governments and has been paid to the claimants. The authority of the commission to make a specific award of damages did not extend beyond such claim as was perfected at the time of the exchange of ratifications of the foregoing convention. The decision authoritatively established, however, the responsibility of the Government of Mexico to the Roman Catholic Church of California for its share of the annual income of said fund as above; also that its bishops and archbishop are the proper parties to demand and receive it; that the claimant is a corporation of American citizens, and that the case is a proper one for the diplomatic intervention of this Government.

A copy of the decision of the umpire is herewith inclosed.b

The archbishop of San Francisco and the bishop of Monterey, representing and acting for said church, now represent to the Department that they have not received any further payments on account of the income of said fund which has accrued subsequent to the 30th of May, 1869, and they ask the intervention of this Government to obtain from the Government of Mexico the payment thereof, as well as of future installments regularly as they shall become due. The amount so due at this time is $904,700.79 and interest.

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You will respectfully call this matter to the attention of the foreign office and make proper inquiries concerning it. It is hoped that the Mexican Government is prepared to make some satisfactory adjustment of the same.

I am, etc.,

William F. Wharton,
Acting Secretary.
  1. Not printed.